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Ongoing History of New Music


Ongoing History of New Music looks at things from the alt-rock universe to hip hop, from artist profiles to various thematic explorations. It is Canada’s most well known music documentary hosted by the legendary Alan Cross. Whatever the episode, you’re definitely going to learn something that you might not find anywhere else. Trust us on this.


London, ON


Ongoing History of New Music looks at things from the alt-rock universe to hip hop, from artist profiles to various thematic explorations. It is Canada’s most well known music documentary hosted by the legendary Alan Cross. Whatever the episode, you’re definitely going to learn something that you might not find anywhere else. Trust us on this.




100 Weirdest Things in Alt-Rock: Part 2

There’s an old saying that goes “he who dies with the least regrets wins”... Good words to live by because by the time we shuffle off this mortal coil, all of us are going to have done and said things that we wish we hadn’t...and chances are, we hope that no one finds out about this stuff... It’s the skeletons in the closet–pieces of our past that we try not to show (or even try to hide) from other people... But in the era of tabloid celebrity, paparazzi, Facebook, MySpace, twitter, Wikipedia, blogs,, the smoking gun and Pérez Hilton, it’s getting harder and harder to keep the bad stuff has a way of being exhumed... You know the kind of stuff I’m talking about...the rumour that Hitler’s paternal grandparent was Jewish...the alien autopsies at area 51....Angelina Jolie’s allegedly history of bisexuality [pause]...uh, sorry...where was I?... Anyway, all of this got me thinking: what are some of great secrets from the world of new rock and alternative music that today’s performers would rather we not discuss?... This is part two of “100 weird things about new rock”... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


100 Weirdest Things in Alt-Rock: Part 1

I have a fascination with the strange...what seems ordinary at first glance is–well, isn’t ordinary at all.... Once you get in the habit of looking past the obvious, the universe opens up in some interesting, unexpected and really cool ways... For example, if you’re ever in Albania and you agree with what someone says, shake your head from side-to-side...if you disagree, other words, do the opposite to what you would do at home...that’s just the way it is in Albania... Here’s many different characters have been featured on The Simpsons?...those who have the time to count those sorts of things say the number is 320... One more: the highest possible score on an old-style Pac-Man game is 3,333,360 at the end of level that point, the game suffers what can be best described as a “nervous breakdown” and the display goes all over... Stuff like this got me thinking...would it be possible to compile a list of the weirdest things ever from the world of new rock and alternative music?... Of course it would...prepare for wonderment... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


10 Things About Chris Cornell

It’s always a shock when we hear that a rock star has died...but when the news about Chris Cornell came out on May 18, 2017, it was extra-jarring... The overall impression was that he was a guy who had it good...he’d been a central fixture of the grunge era as the front man of Soundgarden...there was an totally unexpected hit with the Temple of the Dog project...then a solid three-album run with Audioslave... His solo recordings were hit-and-miss, but given everything else he’d done, fans gave him a pass when he stumbled... Then came the Soundgarden reunion, which began in 2010 and ran for almost eight years...there was a new album—“King Animal” in 2012—and sold out tours...there were also plans for a second post-reunion record for which Chris had already recorded some vocal takes... But then he gone by his own hand in that hotel room in Detroit...another member of the grunge brigade, joining Kurt Cobain, Andrew Wood, and Layne Staley...and it’s possible that Chris’ fate had a fatal effect on his good friend, Chester Bennington, who took his own life two months later... Chris may be gone but we’re still talking about him, still listening to his music, still marveling at that with all great artists, the fascination continues... Let’s take a dive into Chris’ world with ten interesting things about the man that you may not know... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Rock Explainer 3

This universe is very weird, in fact, that we often don’t question its weirdness even though it’s right in front of us...we’re completely caught up in it... For example, when someone takes a group picture, there’s always that person that demands that everyone “say cheese”....that’s a way to get everyone to can’t help but smile when you say “cheese”. No one is really sure who was first to employ the “cheese” trick for photography... In the early days of the camera, it was considered undignified to be captured with any kind of grin...the command from the photographer used to be “say prunes”...that’s why so many old photos have people doing duck lips... The earliest reference to “say cheese” comes from a Texas newspaper report in October 1943...Joseph E. Davies, a former ambassador to Moscow, was interviewed gave away his secret to look pleasant no matter what the circumstances... “just say ‘cheese’”, he advised...Davies wasn’t the inventor of the phrase, though...he says he learned it from some politician... Let’s try something more current...when we enter the full address of a website in a browser, we go http://www. Whatever”...that’s a bit unwieldy...the story of the URL is very complicated, but it breaks down like this... The “http” stands for “hypertext transfer protocol,” the set of rules that govern transferring files over the internet...the “www” is “world wide web,” which is where the url lives...but what’s with “//”?...that’s a holdover from the computer code that was written for the Apollo missions to the moon... And by the way, the guy who first put all this together is Tim Berners-Lee back 1992...he’s really, really sorry for all the confusion and if he had it his way, he’d go back and come up with something better... Since we’re on the topic of rockets, why is there a countdown to launch?...seems obvious, right?...tick down the seconds until the engines fire...but get this: nasa took this idea from a 1929 silent film called “frau im mond”—which translates as “women in the moon”’s considered to be one of the first serious sci-fi films...for its rocket launches, it features a countdown from “six”...6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, now!” Again, this is stuff right in front of our faces that we’ve just accepted as part of life without ever really questioning what’s going let’s extend this to the world of music...there are many strange things that we just accept as fact and protocol...but why?...let’s find out... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Valuable Vinyl

Times are good for vinyl...the format was all but dead until some desperate record store owners invented “record store day” in 2008...since then, we’ve seen double-digit increases in vinyl sales year after year after year... Things are so good that in several countries, the revenue brought in by selling vinyl is greater than the revenue generated by compact disc sales...we haven’t seen anything like this since the late 80s... What’s driving the boom?...many things, from audio quality to the ability to display the music you love in your home... “look at how many linear feet my record collection takes up!...not only that, but I’ve chosen a format that isn’t portable and requires me to purchase special equipment to play it...that’s how much I love music”... Vinyl is something you can hold in your there’s the disc itself, the artwork, the liner notes, the lyrics and all the tactile sensations that go with playing a record... Once you’re smitten, it’s not too hard move to collecting interesting hit used record stores, go to record shows, and scour sites like discogs and eBay to fill in the gaps in your vinyl library... And then there’s the final leap: you become a hard-core collector and look at vinyl as an start lusting after records that are insanely rare and very valuable—and very expensive...these records cost hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, and in a couple of very special cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars... What are these records?...where can you find them?...and what’s it gonna cost me?...this is a tour through some very valuable vinyl...and hey: maybe one of this records is in your music library right now… Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


54-40 In Their Own Words Part 2

If you’re going to commit to being in a band, you have to prepared to deal with the bad as well as the good... The good stuff can include fame, money, perks, and the ability to make a living by playing music...enviable stuff... But then there’s the bad stuff...problems with your record label...lineup changes...dealing with the fickle tastes of the public...writer’s block...internal hassles...I guess we can add pandemic lockdowns, too... I could go on, but you get the point... These are the things that can be deadly for any group at any level...but none of these issues are necessarily fatal...and this is where I direct you to exhibit “A”: Canada’s 54-40... This band has been a going concern since 1980...and while there have been a couple of lineup changes over the years—three, by my count—the core of the group is still there... This is the story of 54-40—in their own words, part 2 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


54-40 In Their Own Words Part 1

Being in a band is hard...keeping a band together is harder still...and if a band can keep it together for more longer than a decade, they should get some kind of medal... Let’s give props to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, still going since their establishment in 1983...Metallica has been with us since 1981...both new order and Depeche Mode go back to 1980... The current lineup of U2 has been the same since that day in March 1978 when they changed their name from “The Hype” they were doing their thing in Dublin, the cure was coming together in England... Pretty are a few more longevity champions...Blondie, formed in 1974...Kiss, 1973...The Eagles, 1971...The Who, 1964...The Rolling Stones, 1962...The Beach Boys, 1961... Now let’s look at just Canada...Sloan has been with us since 1991...The Tragically Hip, 1985...Loverboy, 1979...April Wine, 1969...Rush lasted a full 50 years before they broke up...they were formed in 1968...and we there’s still a version of The Guess Who out there, maintaining a streak that started in 1965... I should also point out that the Nanaimo Concert Band has been a going concert since 1873—not with the original members, of course...there have been some lineup changes... Another name that needs to be added to this list is 54-40...they were established in 1980 and are still going...there have been some changes in personnel, but the core of the band is still intact, still touring, still recording, still on the radio.. They outlasted the original wave of punk, new wave, 80s hair metal, grunge, the resurrection of indie rock in the 2000s, the rise of the internet, the demise of music video channels, and—well, you get the idea... So this is as good a time as any to sit down with the band to let them talk about their decades in the Canadian music business...this is “54-40, in their own words, part 1” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Buying Catalogues - A Primer

There is a new gold rush going on right now—but this one is has nothing to do with minerals or oil or any other traditional’s not what we’ve seen with crypto may have to do with stock markets, but not always...and yet it’s a form of investment, one that should continue to pay off for decades to come... I’m talking about the rush to buy up song catalogues, the rights to material created by some of the biggest artists on the’ve probably heard of some of these transactions... Everyone from the killers to Barry Manilow to Silverchair to the Beach Boys to members of Alice In Chains have cashed out...Imagine Dragons netted $100 million...Justin Bieber, $200 million...the Chili Peppers, $140 million...Bruce Springsteen sold his music for over half a billion dollars... There are about a dozen well-capitalized companies in this game...they’re spending billions of dollars hundreds of thousands of songs...who are they and where’s the money coming from?... If someone is buying, who’s selling?...who sets the price?...if you’re a successful musician, what are the advantages to selling you’re life’s work? long has this been going on?...and what do these big catalogue says mean for the future?... Let’s find out...this is a primer on the stampede to buy (and own) the greatest music of all time... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


History of Skate Punk

My main interest with skateboarding is the music that’s evolved along with fact, there’s a whole subgenre of alt-rock built on skateboarding culture....and there are plenty of legendary rock acts that found their first fans among the skate crowd... This music goes back a lot farther than you might expect, too...i think it’s time that we gave skate punk its due... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


9 Nine In Nails Tales

I vividly remember my first encounter with Trent Reznor and Nine Inch was April 17, 1990, at the old RPM club in Toronto... Nine Inch Nails were opening for Goth God Peter Murphy and frankly, no one cared... I was there with a bunch of people chatting at the bar while this noisy band blitzed their way through the first four songs of their set...and then came song number was an insanely heavy version of the Queen song, “Get Down Make Love” from their 1977 album, “News of the World”... It took about 30 seconds for the crowd to pick up that the band had launched into a cover...and it was a good excellent cover...and I remember seeing the entire audience turn as one toward the stage to see what the hell was going on... My memory is that everyone suddenly got into the band...and for the rest of the set—which consisted of “Ringfinger,” Down In It,” and “Head Like A Hole”—the crowd went nuts...and we were rewarded for our attention by the band smashing their gear to bits at the end... That was it...I was sold on this new band and I’ve been a fan ever since... Nine Inch Nails is one of my desert island bands...I’ve seen the band more times than I can count...I’ve interviewed Trent on multiple occasions... I have just about every single physical release, including several box sets...if you look in my cd library, you’ll find that I have more Nine Inch Nails bootlegs than anyone else...I even wrote a book on the first two albums... With all that in mind, here are some of my favourite stories about Trent and the band...and because I like being cute about things, I’m calling this show “Nine Inch Nails tales”. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Sonic Coincidences in Alt-Rock Part 2

This is part 2 of our look at true stories of plagiarism and unfortunate sonic coincidences in the world of Alt-Rock Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Sonic Coincidences in Alt-Rock Part 1

Let me ask you many times have you heard a song and said "Hey that song sounds just like something I heard last month. That guitar riff is really familiar....don't they realize those chords were used in a song years ago?!?!?!" This sort of thing happens all the fact it happens more than most people realize. Sometimes quiet deals are worked out behind the scenes and the public never knows, other times things get ugly.... These are true stories of plagiarism and unfortunate sonic coincidences in the world of Alt-Rock...part 1 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


The Weird History of Concert Tickets Part 2

We’ve all been for a concert you really, really want to see are set to go on sale at exactly’re on the Ticketmaster site as the clock ticks toward the appointed time... 9:59:57...9:59:58...9:59:59...ten o’clock! time... Enter...nothing...refresh refresh refresh the try mashing the f5 button a bunch hit control-r a couple of times...still nothing...but then, one last time and you’re in!...except you’re 10:01 and 17 seconds, the show you so desperately wanted to see is sold out... What did everything could so many tickets get sold so fast?...hello, what’s this? are already for sale on the secondary market?...and the price is double the face value?...what just happen This is just one ticket-buying scenario...maybe you were able to get in only to discover that tickets were already selling for quadruple the original price—and that’s through the primary seller—in this case, Ticketmaster... You’re the act’s biggest fan! should be able to get tickets to at least one of their shows...and you’ve been shut out in less than 90 seconds...hello?...ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?... Hold on...back up...there’s a lot to process here and it can get pretty emotional...buying concert tickets can be one of the most frustrating of all retail experiences...and a big part of the problem is that the average person doesn’t understand how it works... Wait...that sounds condescending, but I don’t mean it to be...getting a ticket to a concert should be simple—but it’s not...the complexities of buying and selling concert tickets today would drive Einstein insane... Stick around and I will do my best to unravel everything for you and by the time we’re done, I won’t have made it any easier to get a ticket, but maybe you’ll understand why you can’t get one...this is the weird history of concert tickets, part 2... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


The Weird History of Concert Tickets Part 1

Let’s define a “concert ticket” is a contract between you, an act, a promoter, and a venue that allows you admission to specific event at a stated time and place...seems simple enough...let’s continue... A concert ticket can cost money that goes to covering costs and making a profit for those staging the concert...or in some cases, it can be free and is used mainly for tracking attendance... Fair enough...a concert ticket can be pre-printed on card can be printed by a machine when you buy can be a bar or QR code on a piece of paper you print out at may have a little hologram thingy on it or some other sort of security device...that ticket may be tied to the credit card used to buy the ticket—or it may not...and when you go through the door, a person may take your ticket, tear your ticket in half, or just scan it... But maybe you don’t have a physical ticket at have an e-ticket which has been living on your phone for poke through a bunch of screens until you finally find it, holding up everyone in line and thinking to yourself you should have really called it up earlier because you couldn’t remember where you stored it and then get that scanned... Fine...that’s a concert ticket...but who are the people behind issuing and redeeming all these tickets?...what entities get to determine how much we have to pay? come we have to buy so many tickets through Ticketmaster?...and what about these services charges and dynamic pricing and scalpers who somehow get their hands on tickets in second if not before tickets go on sale to the general public? And here’s a bold statement: everything you know about concert tickets is probably wrong... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


The Early Days of LGBTQ Rock

Once upon a time, it was illegal—criminal—to be another other than heterosexual...any hint that you may be something other than straight could get you into all sorts of trouble—and career suicide was the least of your worries... In 1895, the famous English playwright, Oscar Wilde, was put on trial for homosexual practices...he was found guilty and sentenced to two years in jail...he never recovered from the ordeal and died soon after his release... In 1959, Liberace, the famous pianist, sued the London Daily Mirror for libel for implying that he was went to trial and on the stand and under oath, Liberace stated that–this is 1959, remember–he had never indulged in homosexual practices...the judge believed him and he won $24,000... In 1982, a former male bodyguard sued him for palimony–and this time, Liberace had to pay out $95,000...finally, in 1987, he died of AIDS–and the Daily Mirror came calling, looking for a refund of their $24,000... And look at Elton John...despite the fact that he married a woman in 1984, the rumours of his homo- and bisexuality helped erode his fan base in the late 70s...he had to hide it for decades, something that took a serious emotional toll... When you put everything into this kind of context, you can see how far things have come today...if someone comes out, this admission is greeted by most with a’s like “”... And not only that, but sexual orientation is protected by law in much of the world...for example, in late 2004, the French parliament adopted legislation that could get a person one year in jail for insulting homosexuals...this law treats anti-gay and sexist comments in the same way other laws treat racist and anti-Semitic insults...say something homophobic in France and you could end up with 12 months in the clink plus the equivalent of a $75,000 fine... But it wasn’t always this way, including in the world of new rock, which was supposed to be so progressive, liberal and of some stories of brave people who took a lot of arrows for who they were. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


The Very First Episode of the Ongoing History of New Music

I vividly remember sitting down to write the first-ever episode of “The Ongoing History of New Music”...I was in my living room with a blank yellow note pad...and I was terrified... To be brutally honest, I did not want this gig...but the powers-that-be decreed that this was my new job...if didn’t want to do it, that would have been cool...I was told I’d receive a manila envelope containing a modest severance package... That wouldn’t work...I’d just gotten married and I’d just bought a house with a 12 ½ per cent mortgage...and I’d done radio all my adult life, so I didn’t really have a lot of skills for any other line of work... So I told the bosses that “okay, I’ll do it”...what other choice did I have?... So there I am, sitting looking at this blank yellow note pad this was before the internet and before anyone started writing books on the history of alternative music... ...where to start? to organize everything?...and how could I come up with something every single week?... What’s that quote from the ancient Chinese philosopher, Laozi?... “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” I just started scribbling notes... A few days later, I had a script for the first episode of “The Ongoing History of New Music”...I decided that the best way to begin was to make a pilot, a show that laid out what the program would be...I was a total guess...I had no idea...none... I figured I’d do the show for a couple of years and then move on...people would get tired of it, it would outlive its usefulness, or I’d just end up getting fired—for real, this time... But here we are, 30 years later, and I’m still doing “Ongoing History” shows...and as I sit here, it’s February 2023, we’re about 30-ish episodes from Ongoing History show number one thousand...that’ll happen sometime in November... Things have changed a lot since I wrote and recorded that first episode, things that we’ll get into when we get to show number one thousand...but for now, to mark 30 years since the first episode aired, we’ve pulled the recording from the archive and are making it available for the first time as a Podcast...God, the concept of Podcasts was still years away when we started this... So just for fun, let’s take a listen to that very first program, broadcast on February 28, 1993...I hope this isn’t too cringey... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Black History Month 2023

A couple of years back, I did an episode called “The Diversity Show” ran in February as part of Black History Month...the goal was to salute the contributions of people of African descent to the world of rock... It was quite the list...Jimi Hendrix...we had to talk about Jimi, one of the greatest guitarists of all time...then there was Death, a criminally overlooked band from Detroit called Death who were about 20 years ahead of their time... We talked about Bad Brains, the great hardcore band from DC...we moved to English for discussions about Ska stars The Specials and The English beat...the punk-funk of Fishbone, the metal crunch of both Living Colour and Ice-T’s and BodyCount And we included Lenny kravitz, Bloc Party, Bakar, Kenny Hoopla, and more... But the list was incomplete, of course...there was only so much time and there are so many people and events we need to talk let’s spread the recognition around a little more for Black History Month 2023... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


More Vinyl Stories

At the dawn of the 21st century, vinyl was dead, dead, dead...we were all going digital and there was no point in keeping this ancient format...vinyl records were dusty, scratchy, and noisy...they took up too much storage space...they warped and got water damaged... But the biggest knock against vinyl was that it wasn’t portable...MP3s were a brand-new thing back then and the idea of being able to carry around a thousand songs on a device that could fit in your pocket was pretty sexy... While vinyl never went out of production, fewer and fewer records were manufactured...pressing plants shut down and the machinery either sold off for parts or scrapped entirely...and if you happen to need a new turntable or a cartridge, good luck...try and find one... Two groups of people stood between vinyl and its extinction: hardcore collectors who never bought into all the digital promises and djs who preferred spinning records instead of mixing CDs... Vinyl was doomed...but then it wasn’t...starting in 2008, a weird thing some zombie in one of those old Italian horror movies of the early 80s, the format rose from the dead... And today, vinyl is doing something it hasn’t done since the early 90s: generating more revenue than cds...the world still buys more compact discs, but because vinyl sells at a premium, it brings in more money than CDs... Despite supply chain issues, shortages of polyvinyl chloride, back-ups at pressing plants, and higher and higher prices, more people are getting into vinyl every day...that’s why I thought it was time that we explored a few more stories about a format that refuses to go away... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


The Story of TV Theme Songs

Like Homer Simpson, I love my TV...without my local, network, cable, on-demand, and streaming shows none of us would have made it through the pandemic... The downside is that in order to remain distracted and entertainment, I became over-subscribed...mixed with my perpetual fear of missing out, I’ve ended up paying for more cable channels than I need and subscribing to channels I don’t even watch... I’m just too lazy to go through my credit card statements, find the offending charges, and then go through the hassle of calling customer service and cancelling my subscription...I gotta do that... But I’ve been a TV junkie since I was a kid...and one of the things that’s always fascinated me are TV theme songs...some are bespoke compositions commissioned specifically for a show...others are formerly standalone songs that licensed for a program... In both cases, being the writer of a theme song can be extraordinarily lucrative, especially if the show is a hit and goes into syndication...every time the theme you wrote gets played on TV—broadcast or streamed—anywhere in the world, you get paid...every...single...time... And since having your song played as part of a TV show, you’re constantly advertising its existence to the world...if you’re lucky, it’ll blow up into something even bigger...and although it doesn’t happen much anymore, your label might decide to release your TV theme as a single...and if it becomes a hit that way, wow.... What I’d like to do is look at the history of some of these TV themes, focusing on rock bands who made some very good money—sometimes-insane money—from somehow ending up being associated with television... This could very well alter the way you listen to TV from now on... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit



Back in the late 70s, the BBC debuted a science education show called “Connections”...the host was James Burke, an affable, professorish guy, usually dressed in a beige polyester leisure suit who gave the term “interdisciplinary” a whole new meaning... His thing was to take disparate developments in science and technology and show how they were actually interconnected in ways that led to our modern world...nothing, he demonstrated, existed in isolation over the long term... One show connected the invention of the cannon to the first movie project in the late 1800s...there were obviously a lot of steps in between, but Burke was able to draw a very clear line...another demonstrated the few degrees of separating between drinking gin and tonics to astronomers discovering the true size of the universe... “Connections” remains one of my all-time favourite TV shows...and to be honest, more than a little of this program is inspired by the way James Burke was able to tie things together... I’ve always wanted to create a proper “connections”-type show, but it’s been hard because so much knowledge and research and analysis and synthesis is required...and if I’m honest, what you’re about to hear has taken years to pull together...I hope I can do things justice... Here is my attempt to create some connections between rock music and some seemingly unconnected inventions, events, and discoveries from the past... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit